Maharashtra: Farmers march throws traffic out of gear in Bhiwandi

The massive Long March of the Maharashtra unit of the All India Kisan Sabha. Express

The farmers say the march to the assembly is on, but the Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha or AIKS, which is spearheading the protest, also say they are willing to consider what the government offers. Water resources minister and BJP leader Girish Mahajan met the leaders of Kisan Sabha and Communist Party of Marxist during the protest requesting them to withdraw the march on Vidhan Bhavan.

BJP is not just facing flak from the opposition but its estranged ally Shiv Sena has extended its support to the protesting farmers.

"The state government declared a loan waiver package, but 1,753 farmers have committed suicides [since then] because it has failed miserably because of poor implementation", Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, ABKS was quoted as saying. "Unless the government gives us something concrete, commits itself in writing, we will march towards the Vidhan Bhavan tomorrow", he said.

The state government's much-hyped scheme of building farm ponds on demand is also a farce, said Raotovar, as while farmers get these ponds sanctioned, the budget is never released on time. Farmers are reaching the city in batches and on Monday they plan to march to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly pressing for their demands. Senior Sena leader Eknath Shinde met the protestors in Shahapur yesterday at the behest of Uddhav Thackeray.

The farmers' march, which started in Nashik on Tuesday, reached Bhiwandi in Thane district on Saturday.

Fundkar added that he will decide how to handle the protest, and approach the farmers after discussions with the chief minister.

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"The govt will look into the demands and will fulfill them".

In a letter to Modi, Tiwari, who has been working with the farmers, particularly in Vidarbha region for decades, seem to have come out in support of BJP leadership but blamed bureaucrats and administrative machinery for the crisis. "We are prepared to work with the farmers shoulder to shoulder to achieve their demands", Aditya said.

As the march reached suburban Vikhroli, the phalanx of farmers - comprising both men and women - extended for nearly three kilometres.

Considering that the rally would head towards South Mumbai from EEH, the Mumbai police officials are in process of negotiation with the protesters to change the route to avoid traffic congestion on Monday.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti said that adequate security arrangements had been made.

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